Alozie, N. M. (2020) Transforming thought to verbalizations: Supporting verbal communication in middle school collaboration activities [White paper].
Collaboration is an important 21st-century skill that students must be able to master as they progress through school and into their careers (National Research Council [NRC], 2012). Collaboration is also an integral part of STEM learning and is included in many of the recent efforts to revise learning goals for students (such as the Next Generation Science Standards). We analyzed over 200 middle school students that worked collaboratively to develop instructional guides for teachers and students that use collaboration for problems solving and designing artifacts in science. We show how students worked together to determine how to solve problems by (1) negotiating what the task was asking, (2) understanding what other group members were contributing, (3) working through disagreements, and (4) converging on a solution. Finally, we provide guidance for what to look for during instruction to determine students’ collective progress as collaborators.